Location: 33 West 54th St, New York, NY 10019
Best Dish: We thoroughly enjoyed the braised lamb. The meat was savory and luscious. The mashed potatoes were light and fluffy; a perfect companion for enjoying the red wine au jus.
Overall: A surprisingly casual space with elegant surroundings and gourmet quality foods. A fitting space for a relaxed meal or a business dinner.
Finding an Italian restaurant in New York City is easier than finding a clean sidewalk. Italian eateries are all over the city and each one promises an authentic experience but few deliver on that promise. Mozzarella & Vino is one of the few restaurants that showcase authentic Italian food made with ingredients imported directly from Italy. As the name would suggest the venue serves wines and mozzarella delivered from Italy every week. We stopped by the restaurant one evening and instantly fell in love with its quaint rustic charm. We claimed a seat in the rear just beneath the skylight. The front of the space is modern and chic but the rear has old world charm. The space reminds us of bistros on the Italian countryside. During the day sunlight illuminates the space making it bright and airy. During the evening string lights provide a soft amber glow, perfect for a romantic interlude.
We arrived just before sunset and began our meal with glasses of chilled prosecco and a tasting plate of fresh mozzarellas and charcuterie. The cheeses ranged from creamy to firm with flavors ranging from milky to smoky. The cured meats were of exceptional quality and featured a beef prosciutto. The beef version isn’t as delicate as its pork counterpart. The texture is meatier, similar to jerky but more refined. The flavor was a sensational complement to the creamy cheese and sweet dried fruits garnishing the charcuterie.
After the cold platters, we ventured forward with a generous helping of a traditional Sicilian “Caponata”. A Caponata is essentially a cooked vegetable salad. This version was prepared with sweet peppers, eggplant, capers and black olives. As carnivores, we were skeptical of this dish but found ourselves pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was. The veggies were cooked but still crisp and flavorful.
Our first entree was a tasting plate of three of the most ordered items on the menu. The tasting plate contained a generous slice of the daily lasagna, ravioli, and meatballs. Mozzarella & Vino serves only seasonal fresh food. As a result, they offer a “Lasagna of the Day” and a “ravioli of the day” Each of the two dishes feature only the freshest locally sourced ingredients available, so the options change each day. For our visit, the filling was ground pork for the lasagna and spinach and cheese in the ravioli. The meatballs are offered in a dinner portion and as an appetizer. The meatballs are all meat, which satisfied our carnivorous appetites.
The final entree of the evening was a hearty dish of slowly braised lamb on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. The lamb was superb and well seasoned. It was braised in red wine which imparted delicious sweet earthy flavor.
Our dinner ended with a duo of desserts; a seasonal fruit tart and a rich and creamy vanilla pannacotta with berries. A pannacotta is a soft-set pudding that is traditionally from Northern Italy. The texture is similar to flan.
The seasonal fruit tart was made with an assortment of bright fresh fruit served atop a flaky crust and vanilla custard.
Mozzarella & Vino is straightforward Italian food. No pretense, no gimmicks just real food created from the freshest ingredients. The menu is filled with homestyle dishes and sandwiches that are familiar and satisfying. While finding an Italian eatery is easy, finding one more committed to freshness and authenticity than Mozzarella and Vino, can be likened to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Visit mozzarellaevino.com for more information.